Google’s True Form
“Nexus was the idealized version of Android, Pixel is the idealized version of Google”
Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, believes the next platform after PC, Web, and Mobile is Omni-present computing. From this perspective, it makes sense for him to shift Google’s business model from developing only software to a fully integrated model that begins and ends with AI.
Platforms need to have a both form (“The What”) and function( “The How” or interaction model)
The PC era was desktop computers and Microsoft Windows
The Web was pages and Google search
Mobile is the iPhone and android devices, and apps (dominated by Facebook)
What about Omni-present computing?
What form will it take? Is it a phone? Is it a watch?Is it wireless earphones or speakers?
And how will it interact with consumers? Is it in the form of bots? Virtual assistants? or AI powered apps?
There are two requirements for Omni-present computing. 1. It needs to live everywhere and 2) it needs to be accessed instantly. Google Allo is a poor representation of Omni-present computing: The Assistant was demoted to just a feature within an app. With Pixel, Home and ChromeCast, Assistant can finally take its true form.
But what about its how or interaction model?
Google horizontal business model was ideal for the attention economy. They leveraged algorithms to deliver the most relevant options in the forms of links and targeted ads for users. This was also ideal for brands because they could match their messages with the right audiences. But in the new AI world, users don’t want to see a lists of options. The value proposition of AI is that it delivers contextual based real-time solutions. I’m calling this the Solution economy where consumers will judge platforms and brands on how well they will deliver solutions. Amazon calls these skills, Apple is sticking to apps for now, and Google is officially calling them actions.
But actions are a very different function than listing search options. Google’s entire business model was built on providing options either through links and targeted ads. Can Google, with their advantage in data, AI and machine learning, successfully shift to a model that provides solutions over options? Unlike Apple and Amazon, their biggest disadvantage is their go-to-market gap. And they haven’t been very good marketers. But I’m still bullish on Google. The Assistant is by far the most accurate AI powered virtual assistant. What matters now is whether Google Actions can speak louder than their words.